Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

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Jane’s weekly Alexander Technique project: Changing thoughts into awareness

Jane’s weekly project.

  1. Changing thoughts into awareness

I have been noticing a “buzziness” in my body these last few days. It’s my system’s way of saying “There’s something I have to do today. What is it?” Then I gently remind myself that this feeling and these thoughts are as a result of the deadline of writing a blog every day for 21 days. It is a product of busy-ness.

Along with all of that I was thinking  “I need to resist the urge to do something”.

I told my husband I felt like I needed to do something and he reeled off a long list of things I could be doing. I thanked him and said I have a similar list. I will always have a “to do” list but some things will have a higher priority than others.

I realised that starting to address those “to do” lists, wasn’t what I needed. Nor is resisting the urge to “do” the way. That’s doing.

So I have been noticing my urge to do. Saying “Ah, there it is again.” but not going for a conversation with it. My priority at the moment is rest and non-doing.

If you are human, you will have busy thoughts from time to time. The skills you learn via the Alexander Technique are a good way into the present moment, stopping those kinds of thoughts and finding out what is your priority.

Eckhart Tolle talks about the quickest way out of your head and to presence is through awareness of the body. The Alexander Technique is very much about thinking, yet is a mind-body process.

 

You might like to give the following a go when you find thoughts are going round and round or you are having a long conversation in your head:

Notice your thoughts, acknowledge them. Accept them. Thank them for being there. 

Open your awareness to your body. All of it or any part will do. I have been taking my attention to my feet (more on that soon). Be kind about what you notice. No need to judge it. Just notice the sensations. 

Some practices invite you to notice your breathing, or notice one of the senses. What you notice is going to be unique whatever route you choose.

Obviously you don’t have to link this to busy thoughts. You can do it any time.


Simply being aware of my body, I have to come into the present moment! I often find I sigh and take a deeper breath at that moment. Perhaps that’s because I have been restricting my breathing but unaware that I was. It’s often the first response.

The amount you do it is up to you. My experience is the more you do it, the more you notice your busy thoughts, the longer you remain in the present moment.

Let me know if you give it a go, what happens to you? What happens to the thoughts?

Jane Clappison, Alexander Technique Teacher
01759 307282
www.janeclappison.co.uk

“I was totally pain free, having been in pain for years, that was something!”

 

This is the 5th in a series of interviews with people who have had Alexander Technique (AT) lessons. Katherine is in her 60’s, lives with her husband and works from home. Katherine has had a course of several AT lessons over the period of a year and now has the occasional lesson. I asked Katherine a few simple questions about AT and here are her answers:

 

What drew you to the Alexander Technique (AT)?

I have a friend who is also a neurosurgeon who said it would help with my low back pain.

I was using strong pain killers or I was in pain, and I was not as active as I could be.

What differences, having learned AT, have you noticed?

Before, I was in pain or discomfort almost all the time.

Now it is rare and I know more or less what to do about it.

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It’s easy to slump. I can even do it stood up.

This is the fourth interview, in a series of interviews with students of the Alexander Technique (AT) about their experiences of learning the technique:

“It’s easy to slump. I can even do it stood up.”

“I notice slumping, I notice my neck position, I notice my feet. I am aware of the automatic patterns in everything I do: how to recognise them, get out of them and avoid them.”

 

Nick started playing the saxophone at the age of eight and plays in a band. Nick is also self employed in I.T. He started having Alexander Technique (AT) lessons because of:

  • Shoulder pain, neck pain and pins and needles in his hand
  • Tension headaches
  • Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS) and brain fog

The main benefits he has noticed, if he pays attention and applies AT are:

  • No pins and needles in his hand
  • No depression
  • Less tiredness and brain fog
  • Rarely gets neck or back pain
  • Rarely gets headaches which used to be every week & last for days, and now they might happen every 3-4 months

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Out of fear into the present moment

The cycle to work was heavenly. Warm, filled with the scent of newly mown grass and umpteen flowers and the inevitable exhaust fumes from a city commute.

Walking onto wards I was greeted with clouds of talcum powder and many other  unaccustomed smells. My olfactory system, my lungs, my whole being was being assaulted all day long with new stuff!  It was my first ever job as a qualified physiotherapist and I was also struggling to breath!

I had been working in various NHS settings for the last three years as a student physiotherapist so much of the hospital smells would not have been that new, but somehow it was affecting me differently.

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When storm fronts collide

 

“That mindfulness doesn’t work for me, my mind is too full already. I need mind-less-ness.”

Yes, sometimes life is just so overwhelming you want a way out. You want to stop the whole world and get off. It’s just too much. David Whyte, describes it as:

“the meeting of two immense storm fronts, the squally vulnerable edge between what overwhelms human beings from the inside and what overpowers them from the outside.”

You feel like you are having to run to keep up with your thoughts. They are insisting on a conversation that goes round and round and round whilst you compete in an extreme sports competition. You try to keep up because you don’t feel you have a choice, but you know your legs are going to give out any moment, and you will collapse.

Sometimes it’s not quite so extreme. You always ran on fumes, talked fast, been on the alert, perhaps you physically shake in most of what you do. You’ve maybe had two jobs so you can make finances spread further. You fill your evenings and weekends with things to do. A game of squash usually helps to bring calm, or a long walk in the woods. Then something, almost imperceptible comes along, and that way of being just doesn’t work. Something gives, perhaps you find work becomes stressful or you develop a physical illness, start with persistent pain or  simply you feel like your usual high energy approach just isn’t helpful any more. You crash and burn.

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I didn’t expect it would work, but it did.

This is the third interview, in a series of interviews with students of the Alexander Technique (AT) about their experiences of learning the technique.

Students of the technique often come with a specific problem they want to address but then find that they gain a lot of other benefits they had not envisaged.

The following are some of the highlights of Judy’s experiences of applying the principles of AT in her daily life. Judy says it helps to:

  • make her walking easier,
  • help her manage stairs and slopes easier,
  • release into her meditation practice,
  • make sitting easy,
  • feel she can work out how to do challenging tasks with more ease,
  • help her to be calm and feel peace.

Judy is in her 30’s, lives alone and has a number of physical issues which involve both traumatic injuries that became longstanding problems and hyper mobility.

When Judy started learning AT she hoped the technique would have an influence on her posture and help with the pain that occurred with everyday activity. She admits, she didn’t expect it to work, but found out that it did.

Judy decided to learn AT after exploring a number of routes including internet searches, book reading and her physiotherapist’s suggestion to have lessons.

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Jangling Nerves, cafe culture and the Alexander Technique

Photo of a messy desk

I shared a bedroom with my sister until I was about 10. There were lots of pluses to our cohabitation. Excitedly standing at our bedroom window together, on Christmas Eve, trying to spot Santa on his sleigh, was one of them.

On the minus side, I was absolutely challenged by stuff all over the bedroom floor. I still remember the visceral reaction to the chaos. To my sister, the floor was her playground and storage space. It was bliss when I got my own room, though it was extremely tiny. My Dad built cupboards in the room for me. Essentially it became a cupboard from floor to ceiling, with a window and a bed in a recess. It wasn’t hard to keep it tidy.

Somehow, I coped with my sister’s chaos, and over the years I became tolerant to “excessive-to-me” sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, touch, movement: all stimuli. However, if you saw my desk right now you would not think I liked things to be ordered and calm, nor that I still panic when things get too messy. My husband describes my desk filing as a “sedimentary” system and when it gets to full height he describes it as shale.  There is a logic in the chaos as the heap consists of things I am challenged to categorise and thus store,  jobs pending, and things at the ready. I can tolerate the mess up to a point. When I have completed a job, or when I work out where they belong, they are filed away, A-Z style.

Lately,  my tolerance to life seems to have shifted. Visiting cafes (a beloved pastime of mine) is a challenge.

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Vogue your way into clothes

Flamenco groupPutting a sports bra on at any time can be a challenge! Here are some thoughts about that, and some Alexander Technique (AT) ideas that might help. For those of you that don’t wear them, you might find an AT nugget in here somewhere.

To get to the sports bra we need a few detours. The first is about bath bombs and Epson salts.

I am a Lush bath bomb gal. I love watching the effervescing ball dance around the thundering bath water as it releases colour and scent, and luxuriating in all of that. So the suggestion from a friend, of soaking in a bath of Epson salts, wasn’t that appealing. I was assured it would be good for my health. Plus, a huge tub of Epson salts arrived, as a present, and thus, I gave it a go.

Warning – do not try this bit at home! I have no idea if Alexander Technique in the bath will work for you! I could end up with my readers drowning in the attempt. Please don’t.

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